Mayo Clinic researchers are probing potential ways to unleash the human body’s ability to heal neurological disorders like spinal cord injuries or multiple sclerosis. Myelin is the protective covering that surrounds nerve fibers in the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord. Demyelination, or injury to the myelin, slows electrical signals between brain cells, resulting in loss of sensory and motor function. Through funding from Regenerative Medicine Minnesota, Mayo Clinic researcher Arthur Warrington, Ph.D., is investigating the ability of a human antibody to encourage the nervous system to regenerate its own myelin.
“As we age the myelin healing process takes longer, partly due to the aging immune system,” says Dr. Warrington. “We’re taking the concept of regenerative and therapeutic antibodies for multiple sclerosis (MS) and looking at whether that can be translated to rescue spinal cord injuries.”
A unique human antibody, discovered at Mayo Clinic, completed early stage clinical trial in patients with MS without any side effects. Because it was found to be safe in humans, researchers can now design studies for patients across the spectrum of neurological disease where remyelination would be of benefit, such as spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and stroke.